Archive for December, 2012

Kwanzaa- New Traditions, Old Roots

Kwanzaa is a Pan-African cultural holiday– that is including¬† people of African descent around the world. It was created in the 1970’s by Maulana Karenga- a professor of African Studies and leader in the Black Power movement. ¬†It’s a 7 day holiday that begins on Dec. 26 and goes thru Jan. 1st.

I’ve always thought it was a neat holiday and I’ve lately been joking that I celebrate Kwanzaa to take advantage of after-Christmas sales. But setting aside my irreverent sense of humor, there is a parallel between the creation and observance of Kwanzaa and aspects of Neo-Paganism. Both are new traditions which draw on roots from the past & the “mother country”. Kwanzaa is actually a harvest holiday, despite the fact that many folks in the African Diaspora live in climates where the harvest is much earlier than late December. If Mr. Karenga wanted an African alternative or cultural supplement to Christmas, I’m not sure why he didn’t choose a midwinter holiday (or midsummer for those in the Southern Hemisphere). I know very little of African religions, but I’m sure some of them celebrate either, or both solstices in some way. Anyhow this is also parallel to Neo-Pagans who live in climates that differ from the cultural origins of their religions.

Each day of Kwanzaa is focused on one of the Nguzo Saba- Seven Principles, and a candle is lit on the kinara- a candle holder much like the menorah used in Jewish tradition. I feel there is much we can learn from these values, and I’ve decided to reflect on each one (even if I am a day behind!) , as well as try to connect it with my own beliefs. I’d be interested in seeing other Neo-Pagan views on this, particularly Neo-Pagans who celebrate Kwanzaa.

December 27, 2012 at 12:21 am 1 comment


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